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August 8, 2012

Getting to the Root of Tooth Sensitivity

Chances are, you have experienced the discomfort of sensitive teeth.  Sensitivity in the  mouth can be a sign of other underlying issues.  Teeth feature three primary layers: the protective outer enamel, the sensitive dentin, and at the core, a canal that houses nerves and connective tissue. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body and the second hardest naturally occurring substance on our planet. Dentin is a softer tissue that features tiny tubules, or channels, that allow sensations of pressure and temperature to be conducted to the tooth’s nerve. The nerves that lie within the inner canal then send signals to the brain.

Thin Enamel

Acid erosion and tooth wear can thin the protective enamel on the outside of teeth. Thin enamel provides less insulation, making teeth more sensitive to temperature fluctuations and pressure. Erosion is most often caused by acid in foods or from stomach acid. Enamel wear most often results from grinding and clenching teeth, a condition called bruxism.

Exposed Dentin

The crowns of teeth are covered with enamel, but the roots are not. If the gums recede, roots become exposed. The slightest pressure, such as that from wind, can cause intense pain to exposed teeth roots. Temperature fluctuations will also cause discomfort. Gums can recede for a number of reasons, including gum disease, grinding, or aging. (more…)

March 31, 2011

Omega-3s, Oh My!

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in heart-healthy diets. But did you know that they may help prevent gum disease?

Nearly 80 percent of the population has some form of gum disease. The condition is linked to diabetes, heart disease, premature births, low birth weight, and various forms of cancer. When detected early, gum disease can be treated conservatively. However, left untreated, patients may have to undergo surgery to correct the problem.

A recent study shows that consumption of even moderate amounts of omega-3s may decrease the likelihood of developing gum disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in nuts, seeds, cooking oils, and fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel. The American Heart Association recommends indulging in some of these foods and supplements at least twice a week.

Nearly 80 percent of the population has some form of gum disease. The condition is linked to diabetes, heart disease, premature births, low birth weight, and various forms of cancer. When detected early, gum disease can be treated conservatively. However, left untreated, patients may have to undergo surgery to correct the problem.

I’m Dr. Peter Pate, an Atlanta dentist, and I encourage you to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, as well as continuing proper oral hygiene of brushing twice daily, flossing, and keeping your six-month checkups and cleanings. If you detect the early signs of gum disease (redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums), call my office, Dentistry in Buckhead, at (404)266-9424 to schedule an appointment.

October 19, 2010

Got Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is that dry, cottony feeling you get when your salivary glands don’t produce properly. Saliva is important to digestion and lubrication of oral structures.  It also contains enzymes, electrolytes, anti-bacterial compounds, and mucus. Without the proper amount of saliva, you might experience bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, trouble eating and talking, and general discomfort in your mouth.

Often, people with dry mouth feel excessively thirsty, their saliva seems thick, and their mouths feel sticky. Dry mouth can contribute to a hoarse voice, scratchy or burning tongue, chapped lips, thrush (oral yeast infection), mouth sores, or dryness in the nose.

So what causes this irritating condition?  Factors that may affect dry mouth include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Drinking too little liquid
  • Drinking alcohol or caffeine
  • Mouth breathing
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Using one of over 1,000 over-the-counter medications
  • Taking 3 or more prescription drugs
  • Medical Conditions: HIV/AIDS, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, Sjorgren’s Syndrome, diabetes, mumps, stroke, and others
  • Radiation and chemotherapy
  • Trauma to the mouth or throat

If you’re struggling with dry mouth, tell Dr. Pate at your next appointment. He’ll help you find the factors contributing to your condition, and then he can recommend ways to alleviate the problem.

October 13, 2010

Emergency Dental Care: What to do until you see Dr. Pate.

We handle dental emergencies all the time. If you have a dental emergency, please call the office immediately at 404-266-9424 so that you can see Dr. Pate. The most common dental emergencies are knocking out or loosening a tooth, a major toothache, and losing a crown.  For problems like severe trauma or bleeding, our first recommendation is to go to the emergency room. You will be treated more quickly for life-threatening emergencies at the ER. Remember, if it’s painful, it’s an emergency and should be addressed as soon as possible to increase the chances of saving the tooth and reducing damage to the nerves and tissue.

What do I do if a permanent tooth is knocked out?

Don’t panic!  First, find the tooth and brush it off gently. Don’t run water over it unless it’s covered in dirt.  Place the tooth into a small cup of milk – yes, milk. Press a clean cloth against the space in your gums where the tooth was knocked out. Then call our office to let us know about the situation, and we’ll make time in our schedule for you to see Dr. Pate. He might be able to replace the tooth, depending on the break and the damage.

What do I do if I have a toothache that’s so severe I can’t sleep, eat, or think straight?

Please call our office for an appointment! We’ll fit you in as soon as possible. Take Tylenol or Advil to temporarily help ease your pain.

What do I do if my temporary or permanent crown falls off?

If you can find the crown, rinse it off and keep it. If the crown is not broken, use a dab of toothpaste or temporary cement (available at the drugstore) to reattach the crown. Then call our office and we’ll set a time, probably the same day, for you to see Dr. Pate.

The best treatment for an emergency is prevention!  Preventive treatment is obviously easier, more cost effective, and significantly less stressful (on your body and your schedule) than undergoing emergency treatment. Although some emergencies cannot be prevented, many are preventable.  For example, you should wear a mouth guard while engaging in sports.  In addition, regular preventive care visits with Dr. Pate will help you avoid unexpected toothaches by identifying developing dental issues.  You can take care of them before they become a painful nuisance!


September 15, 2010

YEEEOWCH! Do You Suffer from Tooth Sensitivity?

Do you say no to sundaes? Do you wait for your soup to stop steaming? Is sugar painfully sweet? If your teeth ache with temperature fluctuations or sour and sweet tastes, you probably have sensitive teeth. The consequences of this touchy condition can range from a dull ache to sharp, shooting pains.

Teeth grinding, gum recession, gum disease, tooth decay at the gum line, cracks, chips, and plaque buildup can make teeth sensitive. Years of brushing too hard, consuming high-acid foods and drinks, “thin tooth enamel,” or using certain mouthwashes or toothpastes can also contribute to your sensitivity. If your sensitivity is a result of recent dental work, it may go away as quickly as it developed.

Is there hope that you’ll ever enjoy a brisk winter walk or a glass of refreshing iced tea without wincing when the cold hits your teeth?


As with most dental conditions, the first line of defense is good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. Make your appointments with Dr. Pate for checkups and cleanings every six months (or as often as recommended). Switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush, using desensitizing toothpaste, and reducing the amount of acidic foods and drinks you ingest (colas, citrus, sports drinks, coffee, wine, etc.) are great first steps you can take at home. (more…)